Yes. For twelve weeks I prioritized Reece in his journey through all the fear reactivity he struggles with and we had our last class yesterday. These last twelve weeks, I have almost been running on empty trying to get it all done, but it was my decision to adopt him and help him work through all his behavioral challenges, and I needed to do this for his future and quality of life. I want him to have lots of experiences and adventures and we will get there!
It was great and tiring and fun.
It was what I needed after the tragic losses of Misty and Bonnie earlier this year.
I didn't have much time to think for too long.
It cut into my 'me' time.
It cut into my very limited time with Christian, but he too knew how important this was for me.
Reece has been the ultimate test for me. I have worked with shelter dogs who had all types of issues, but I honestly did not understand how difficult it would be to adopt a dog with such intense fear aggression in regards to humans. I have at times felt defeated, inadequate, and like a failure - and in that first year I even briefly regretted the decision to adopt him. I bawled when explaining to the trainers what my plan was for him. In hindsight, I realize that I completely underestimated the 'homebody' lifestyle I have, being a huge hurdle in his progress... The reality though is that if I didn't adopt him, he'd either have gotten euthanized or he'd be mentally deteriorating in a shelter which is worse than death.
Christian wants Reece to accept him so bad, and that is the goal I am working towards. We have opposing schedules, so that has been part of the issue. Christian isn't home enough when I am also home to help make those slow encounters happen regularly enough, but now I see how we can make this work! I realized that the last two years, I was doing it all wrong. I have to get him out on the trails. I have to get him out in the world. I have to expose him so much to strangers that it stops being a thing. Our next "class" starts next week. We will start walking daily on the firefly trail, and now I feel confident in doing so after those twelve weeks learning how to redirect his attention and read his early cues of focus where we don't want it.
Seeing how Reece is starting to accept human strangers in our classes has opened my eyes to how we will start over and reintroduce him and Christian again when the time is right. This will be our year for sure! He will likely always be a threat to Spirulina, but now I can see how rotating the two for hang time with us both seems a bit more likely...
Anyway, I am in a very optimistic place with envisioning Reece's future with us, and I am patting myself on the back for these last twelve weeks. It was not easy to get pumped about heading to class after working a full day at the office, but I knew if I truly wanted to help my boy, this would be the best foundation to build from (and I didn’t miss one single class!) and the last two years of what I was doing was not really getting us any closer to peace and harmony with my other half. I have witnessed quite the transformation in Reece this year, and truly feel that by the end of this year, we will have made major progress with Christian and Reece’s friendship!
Happy Friday! We (Reece and I - Christian only has one day off - boo!) have a long weekend ahead of us and lots of stuff planned!